Linda Messmer is a story-teller. She is not a gossip, though her stories are always about her Clay County neighbors. A gossip repeats what they hear from other people; Linda gets her information from the person she is writing about.
Her natural inquisitiveness paid off big time Saturday when she was awarded two prestigious awards by the Hoosier State Press Association.
Linda won a first place award for a story she wrote about Dr. Kennard Sproul, who turned his life around after contemplating suicide. She also won a third place certificate for another feature story.
"It's wonderful," Messmer said this morning. "It's great to be recognized by the statewide (HSPA) organization."
Messmer's all-consuming interest in her subjects was demonstrated when she asked, "What story won third place?" No one from The Times learned what story received third place.
Weeks before the awards ceremony, she wanted to know what she won so she could thank the subjects of her stories.
Messmer's awards are put in perspective when one realizes there were 3,600 entries from 94 newspapers in the annual Better Newspaper Contest. Those entries were for a wide variety of categories in six divisions. Messmer competed against reporters in newspapers of similar circulation to The Brazil Times.
Messmer, reporter Evan Wade, Lifestyle Editor Lynn Hamilton and Managing Editor Frank Phillips attended three hours of classes on newspaper writing before the awards luncheon in the Adams Mark Hotel, Indianapolis International Airport. Messmer's husband, Steve, also attended the awards ceremony.
Messmer began writing for The Times on a free-lance basis in 2001.